On publishing and marketing. Or, “Give my books for Christmas!”

Ten - coverThe majority of published authors are also the marketing department for their books. A few authors excel at this naturally. Others work really hard to promote their books effectively. The rest of us do what we can, asking our more effective friends for tips, while living in hope that a high-traffic blogger will review our book in glowing terms and encourage their readers to buy 10 copies to give to their friends.

I fall into the last category.

There’s also the awkwardness of the whole self-promotion thing, something which I have yet to (entirely) overcome. I’m British, which – on the helpful side of things – comes with a pretty cool accent, but also – on the not-so-helpful side of things – comes with a strong dose of self-deprecation. “Well, yes, I have written a couple of books, but, um, well, they’re hardly N.T. Wright! Or Anne Lamott. Or, um, anyone else you might have read, actually. (High-pitched laugh). Um. Sorry. (Pause) More tea, vicar?”

So while I wait for that killer review of TEN, this post will serve as my Christmas 2014 marketing campaign. So, er, I hope you might buy perhaps one copy of TEN to give to a friend (and one for yourself while you’re at it). Besides the fact that my dad says that it’s very good, here are a few more reasons why you might consider gifting my second book to friends and family this year:

1. Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and I totally understand that inclination), it’s not a shocking revelation to say that we live in an increasingly polarized society, one where dueling monologues seem to be what passes for civil discourse around the enormous challenges we face as a society (and as a species). In TEN, I have tried to model the kind of respectful conversation I believe people with differing worldviews and life experiences are capable of – conversations I have had the privilege of being part of from time to time.

2. What makes such dialogue possible? Often it is when we hear each others’ stories, which enables us to begin to understand why a person might hold such a different viewpoint than our own. The characters in the book begin to move towards each other as they find the courage to be vulnerable with each other – even while they continue to disagree with each other.

3. While the Ten Commandments may seem hopelessly out of date, I am convinced that they are an invitation to examine ourselves in light of these bedrock practices for the kinds of communities where as many people as possible have the opportunity to thrive – or not. We tend to interact briefly with a caricature of the Ten Words, rather than taking time to consider them for what I truly believe they are – Words of Life.

4. While my editor describes my preferred genre as “fictional discourse” – or, imagined conversation – all the wisdom, stories and any insight the book may contain derives from actual conversations born of years of friendship, often with people whose stories are very different than my own. As such, I hope they ring true for others.

5. Finally, some people I respect and whose writings have shaped my own writing – and life – have said some very kind things about TEN, including Walter Brueggemann, Michael Frost, Ian Morgan Cron and Teresa McBean.

So, I hope one or two of those might help tilt you towards buying a copy or two to give as gifts this Christmas. While writing can indeed be gratifying in and of itself, I must admit I also find it gratifying to know that people are reading what I’ve written. So thank you in advance for doing so.

But wait! There’s more. If you enjoy listening to as well as (or instead of) reading books (or you know someone who does), Rebecca and I finally recorded the unabridged audiobook version of my first book, The Story of God, the Story of Us. We chose a small company out of N. Carolina to distribute it, who offer authors far higher royalties than Audible.com. (Seriously, way more. Like, ten times more.) We’re really happy with the production of the audiobook, and believe hearing a story can be a profoundly different experience than reading it. We hope you discover that to be true for yourself.

I love writing, and it has been a privilege to work with the wonderful team at IVP over the last 5 years. I’m sure they would be almost as happy as I would be if TEN saw a small bump in sales over Christmas. And to know that people are listening to The Story of God on those nifty listening devices they got in their stockings this year would warm the cockles of my heart. (That’s English-English for “help us end the year in the black.”)

Feel free to click on one of those convenient ‘sharing’ buttons below if you’re so inclined. And may peace be with you and yours and everyone else this Christmas.

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